As I was looking for the name of the Swiss Army knife my father gave me as a child (it was a “Tourist”), I browsed through the Victorinox website and found myself in the timepieces section. My last memory of Victorinox watches was the Original Chronograph with a fabric strap, so I was pleasantly surprised at the range of timepieces it currently offers and instantly fell in love with one particular model: the Alliance Mechanical.
The watch comes in four versions, its dial available in dark gray and eggshell and its strap either of ecologically-tanned black leather or polished and satined steel. My first impulse, no different from looking at clothes and looks from a designer’s runway show at fashion week, was to pick the one that was my favorite – thinking that the first one I saw with a gray dial and black leather strap (above) was easily the most beautiful and elegant. But then I looked at the other three and was stumped. Images of what I would wear with each went through my mind: from a white crisp shirt and jeans to a tailored suit for more formal occasions like a wedding. Looking at each piece longer, each version had its own particular appeal.
What makes them so beautiful is the clean and classic design, which doesn’t appear flat, but subtle and sophisticated. I love how the polished indexes are pyramid-shaped and how they catch and reflect light, and how the hour and minute hands are not sharp at their peak but bevelled. I also like how the red of the second hand and the “automatic” inscription at the bottom present a stark contrast to the other colors. Lastly, I was surprised that, for such a discrete-looking timepiece, Arabic numerals were used (3, 6, and 9) instead of the usual Roman numerals (III, VI, IX) – the mix of the formal and informal gave the pieces a look that was not only sober and competent, but also fun and modern.
Looking at the technical details, I find that the Victorinox Alliance Mechanical is equipped with a self-winding ETA 2824 movement, which is famous for its robustness and reliability. (Inquisitive as I am, I looked up the ETA SA Swiss Watch manufacturer at Wikipedia and marvelled at the tradition of excellence that each Swiss watch inherited.) The case of Alliance is stainless steel, 40mm in diameter. I also noticed and very much appreciated the discreetly embossed military time figures on the inner edge of the indexes (from 14 to 22) and arranged in a smaller concentric circle. This is echoed by notches and oblongs, which marked the seconds near the edge of the dial. There was just so much thought and detail put into the design of the model that I couldn’t help but stare and stare again. Other technical facts include a scratch-resistant sapphire surface, triple ant-reflection treatment water resistant to 10 ATM (100m / 330 feet) and a screwed-on mineral case back. Of course, the model also has a date calendar to anchor the imposing Swiss Army Knife emblem at the proverbial “head of the table”.
Looking at the four versions of the Victorinox Alliance Mechanical timepiece one last time before I moved on, I noticed one crucial characteristic: its design both bears masculine and feminine overtones, which were in perfect balance. As in any beautiful piece of art, the elegance of the pieces relied on a subtlety that was charmingly beguiling.